Putting Up the Dome: Part Two
The building took a hiatus, as our weekends booked up with birthdays and guitar recitals and life in general. So September didn’t see much building. Then, all of a sudden, it was October, and we realized we needed to get in gear or the rains would postpone everything.
There are so many details that go into building this thing—details that aren’t covered in the Pacific Dome platform plans. So a lot of this is us (read: Mauricio) hacking it.
After we measured and dug the pier posts, the next job was to level them. Because the land was graded at a 5% slope for drainage, we had to compensate with the 4×4 posts. As you can see in the picture, each 4×4 piece of wood standing on the pier is a different length in order for it to be level with the laser line Mauricio shot. The piers had to be level with themselves as well as level with the rest of the piers. Not an easy task. Especially with a perfectionist foreman.
After the posts were finally leveled, we started laying the beams. Buggers are heavy. There were no instructions on actually how to attach them to the beams, so we opted for metal bracing.
Once the beams were laid, we could add the joists. Another easier-said-than-done task. Each of the joists has to be cut to a different length and each edge is cut at a different angle to create a polygon base for the dome. Mauricio asked me if I wanted to do the cuts with the miter saw (run by generator, in case you’re wondering). I’ve done woodworking as a kid with my dad (Thanks, Dad, for another one of the many useful things you taught me). And I even won an award for a bench I made in junior high woodshop. But I found myself a little afraid of that saw, and opted to keep my limbs intact. But when Mauricio asked a second time, I realized I was being totally lame and a traitor to my feminist cause. So I measured and cut the joists and I am a badass. With a pickup truck. And my two hands, still.
Then we screwed in the perimeter boards. This is where you get to see if your angles were cut correctly. We had to unscrew and recenter some of the joists, as well as recut the last one. But for the most part, we were spot on. Once we got the joists laid, perfectionist foreman was not happy with some of the warpy places where the wood joined, so we spent another day bracing them with boards and bolts.
Then, after more weekends than you thought it would take, you have the foundation of your dome platform. Which doubles as a maze of balance beams for the rest of the work crew.